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The PINS Diversion Program Helps Keep Kids’ Behavioral Problems in Order

by | Sep 20, 2016 | Family Law Attorney, Family Law Lawyer, News and Events

As a Family Law Attorney practicing on Long Island and a parent myself, I know how challenging parenting can be and how the challenges seem to only increase as children enter their teenage years. As the saying goes, “little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems.”

Teen Rebelliousness is a Normal Part of Growing Up

Most parents are at some point faced with a degree of rebellious or troublesome behavior as their children begin to explore ways to establish their own identities separate and apart from their parents and family members. Unfortunately, while most teens brush up against rebellious behavior only mildly or briefly, this typically rebellious phase extends to dangerous or “out of control” behavior in some children.

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When ‘Normal’ Becomes ‘Out of Control’ Consider PINS

Parents and loved ones are often unequipped to deal with these types of problems, and many feel helpless when it comes to severe behavioral problems in their teenagers. Of course, parents do not want to see their child in trouble with the law, but they also do not want to see their child get hurt from their violent or dangerous behavior. If you or a family member is dealing with an “out of control” teen, the law may be able to help you, without hurting your child or your family. Children like this, who become “beyond their parents’ control”, may require court ordered supervision under the PINS program in New York.

What is PINS?

The PINS (Persons in Need of Supervision) Program provides court supervision of children who are a risk of danger to themselves or others. It is a preventative measure that helps kids stay out of trouble with the law and begin to rectify behavior problems before adulthood. Examples of the problematic behavior addressed by PINS include:

  • running away from home
  • refusing to attend school
  • staying out past curfew
  • not returning home for days
  • stealing
  • using drugs or alcohol
  • refusing to abide by parents’ reasonable rules

PINS Helps Reduce Serious Legal Consequences for Juveniles

The PINS diversion program was developed as a way to reduce serious legal consequences for juveniles by instead providing “diversion” services such as counseling, supervision, mental health services, and different education options. It also provides an incentive for young adults to change their behavior to avoid more serious consequences. A PINS proceeding is not a criminal proceeding, and involvement with the program will not show up on a criminal record.

How to Get Help from PINS on Long Island

Parents or guardians can file the petition in Suffolk County or Nassau County Family Court on Long Island, NY. A petition can also be filed by a police officer, school representative, or person who has been injured by the child. The petitioner, or the complaining party, will present his or her case to the Suffolk County or Nassau County Family Court judge assigned to the case. At a PINS hearing, the facts will be presented by the petitioner, who describes the child’s behavior, presents evidence to support the petition, and asks the court to order supervision of the child. If the judge determines that supervision is not required, he or she will dismiss the case. If the judge determines that the child’s behavior warrants a PINS case, he or she will set a date for a dispositional hearing to determine what type of supervision is required.

Possible Outcomes of PINS Case in Suffolk County or Nassau County

Possible outcomes of the dispositional hearing include supervision by a probation officer, transfer to protective custody, or placement in a group home or other residential care facility. The court may institute curfews and order mental health treatment or counseling for the child and/or the family as a whole. A probation officer may supervise the child’s compliance, perform regular visits with the child, and conduct drug testing. It is also possible that a court would temporarily place a child with a relative or in a foster care setting if it appears that family dynamics are at play in the child’s behavior. The child must comply with the court order at this time or risk more restrictive placement or further, more serious litigation.

Long Island Family Courts Can Also Find Parents At Fault

In addition to the child’s responsibility to follow the court order as well as his or her parents’ rules, it is essential that parents actively create rules, structure, and a safe environment for their children. If a court suspects that the parents are neglectful or abusive, a child neglect or abuse investigation can also be commenced in order to ensure a healthy home environment.

Choosing PINS is Not Easy for Long Island Parents

The PINS program can be a great resource for Long Island families that are at a loss for how to help their troubled teen. The decision of whether to file a PINS petition for your own child can be a very difficult one. Even though it does not result in a criminal record, the court supervision can create an increased level of stress for the child and the family.

Experienced Long Island Family Law Attorney Can Provide Advice & Support

A seasoned family law attorney can provide advice and support as you make the decision and navigate this difficult process. Children are also, in many cases, entitled to representation by an attorney. Since parenting and family matters are personal and often sensitive, it is important that you find an attorney in whom you can confide and trust. The experienced and compassionate family law attorneys at the Office of Robert E. Hornberger, P.C. are experienced with all aspects of family law in Nassau County and Suffolk County, including PINS cases. Contact us today at 631-923-1910 for a free family law consultation.

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